Forget the usual parenting fare and grab one of these books instead. None will tell you how to get your child to stop whining or just say no to drugs but you can find that advice elsewhere. Although these selections might not improve your mommy brain they could make the challenges of parenting seem less daunting.
Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success by Madeline Levine
Levine, a clinical psychologist, is your friend with older children who's seen it all and who just gets it. Gets it. She sees the big picture. Levine would like you to let go of your unreasonable academic demands, crazed extra-curricular calendar, hyper-parenting tendencies and your failed aspirations that are definitely not your kid's to relive or unload in therapy.
Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't by Suzanne Barston
Suzanne is a friend and you'll find my name in her book but this is a one-of-a-kind tour through not only Suzanne's own complicated breastfeeding experience but the science or lack thereof. She would like you to know why breastfeeding is not always the best choice (e.g., postpartum depression, history of eating disorders, infant physiological problems).
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
Raise your hand if you're wondering why your son with the high GPA is sleeping in your basement and not even looking for work. Here's your book. Mr. Tough, an excellent name for someone writing about tenacity, would like schools and parents to lay off the test prep and homework to focus on other more valuable skills like perseverance and optimism that he argues predict more genuine success (i.e. not necessarily big bucks).
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
Think of this as a companion to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, another lengthy bible of mental health challenges. This one chronicles a dizzying array of families with children coping with a heap of burdens. Transgender identities, schizophrenia and dwarfism to name a few. Solomon would like you to know that no matter how messy it can appear, parents love their kids and even manage to eke out moments of profound joy and satisfaction. We'll be discussing this sucker for a while because it will take years to get through the 900-plus pages.
The Power of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Thankfully I'm not the only one who thinks it's not such a handicap to be quiet or at least not blurt out personal revelations and half-baked theories. Cain would like you to stop wondering what's wrong with the kid glued to mom's leg at Chuck E. Cheese. Here's a salvo to those of us who got killed on the class participation grade. No, we're not gonna raise our hands but someday we may start a blog.
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick
It's long, it's dry but here's the good news. Your kids will survive Facebook, Instagram and whatever the next college drop-out visionary thinks up. Gleick would like you to remember this is not the first generation to parent through a new and totally awesome communication system. Parents seeing the alphabet for the first time? Talk about stress.
The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance by Nessa Carey
Thanks to the field of epigenetics it is quite reasonable to worry that parents may be screwing up not just their children but unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Get used to the idea. Brace yourself. What you do today can impact whether the genes you pass down get activated in future generations. Carey would like you to know those Cheetos in your hand could be flipping on the heart attack gene in your progeny for at least the next century. Scary but utterly fascinating.
What good books did I miss?